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Felicity Murray takes a look at what new features and exhibits we can look forward to at this year's London International Wine Fair, Excel, May 20-22.

The LIWF has a new initiative for 2013, MyWineFair, which provides tailored programmes, connecting visitors with exhibitors at the LIWF, based around an online database of wines to be exhibited. 

An evolution of The List which was launched in 2008, MyWineFair is an online tool that allows visitors search for wines by various criteria (including producer, variety, price point, country) in advance of the Fair in order to create a usable, personalised list.  Improved functionality sees MyWineFair incorporated in the new LIWF app that allows visitors to search the wine library, see which Masterclasses and Industry Briefings are being held and to fully tailor their visit to the LIWF. 

Wine data is categorised by four identified supply channels: on-trade; independent retail; multiple retail; and specialist (on-trade, independent retail and online). Each channel has a colour coding, visible in the app and online. This colour coding will be reflected at the show, as each exhibitor will be given colour coded bottle neck collars – designed by Barlow Doherty – for easy navigation around the show floor.

For visitors unable to access the App or without time for planning in advance, there will also be a MyWineFair information centre “Hub” in the middle of the show floor.  The Hub will be hosted by wine specialists who will create bespoke printed itineraries for visitors. It will also host four separate activities:  a Speaker’s Corner – a programme of 30minute stand-up sessions from industry influencers; themed Pop up Tastings; IWSC Trophy Wines; and the Benevolent.

The 2013 exhibitors
This year sees Chinese wines at the fair for the first time. Château Hansen, located on stand G1, was established by the Han family in the 1980s but, since 2010, the winemaking has been overseen by French winemaker, Bruno Paumard. Paumard, who was previously at Saumur-based Bouvet-Ladubay, will be presenting the wines at the fair.

Château Hansen is an organic estate – China’s first – located in Wuhai, on the southern edge of the Gobi Desert, in Inner Mongolia. Here and in the adjacent region of Ningxia, at around 1,500m, 450ha of vineyards have been planted.  Conditions are arid with temperatures dropping to as low as -30°C over the winter months, when the vines are buried for protection.  

Château Hansen currently produces around two million bottles annually, with no history of exporting until now.  Château Hansen will be showing its Côtes du Fleuve Jaune du Désert de Gobi – a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Gernischt, Cabernet Franc and Merlot sourced from parcels in Ningxia, Gansu and Wuhai and aged in 30% new French oak for 16 months.  Cabernet Gernischt is considered the flagship varietal for China with spicy, peppery characteristics.

Other exhibitors at LIWF this year with new products and or new packaging to unveil include Gonzalez Byass on stand, J22, where the fourth annual release of Tio Pepe Fino En Rama will be available to taste.  This is a special selection of un-clarified, unfiltered Fino. Winemaker, Antonio Flores, has made a selection of the best casks from the ancient Tio Pepe soleras, where the conditions in particular butts have resulted in an enhanced growth of Flor, producing a wine with real finesse and delicacy of aroma. This wine is made in strictly limited quantities and has a three month recommended drinking window to ensure freshness.Also on the Gonzalez Byass stand will be the latest vintages of Austrailian Wirra Wirra wines including the re-launched Scrubby Rise range in distinctive new labels created by Australian artist Andrew Baines.

Myliko Wines, stand K10, supplies wines from all over the world to both the UK’s on and off trade. Among the new wines being unveiled is the Whispering Tree range from the Columbia Valley of Washington State. Also, from South Africa’s KWV, a range of brandies will be on show – a new step for Myliko Wines as the brandies mark the first spirit listing for the company. The LIWF will also be used as a platform to re-launch the Banyan Tree range of wines as well as Spice Trail, the series of wines that is specifically designed to complement curry and other Pan Asian foods.

Marcato Direct, stand N53, is a new supplier of Italian wine exhibiting for the first time at LIWF. Marcato Direct is a collection of Italian winemakers working together to provide a portfolio of estate- produced wines from family-owned vineyards throughout the most famous wine-producing regions of Italy. This year will see the addition of four new producers: San Cassiano, Podere Ruggeri Corsini, Vigneti Radica and Sorrentino.

Louis Latour Agencies will be found at I20 with a new stand located close to entrance S4. The Louis Latour Agencies team and a number of their principals, including Louis-Fabrice Latour of Louis Latour, Laurent Chevalier, general manager of Beaujolais wines, Henry Fessy; Jean-Philippe Archambaud of Simonnet-Febvre and Warren Adamson, sales director of Craggy Range will be on hand to meet and chat.

Several new initiatives will also be featured on the stand this year including, on Monday and Wednesday at noon, a seminar by Chris Porter of specialist freight forwarders, Porter & Laker, who will present a 40 minute step by step guide on the process of shipping wine from Europe.

Chardonnay is undergoing something of revival in popularity at the moment and, as it is a variety close to Louis Latour Agencies heart, they have created a Chardonnay Trail on the stand to show a snapshot of the breadth of styles available in the portfolio. On completion of the trail, tasters will have the chance to enter a prize draw for a magnum of Corton Charlemagne – one of the finest Chardonnay's in the world.

For the last hour of the fair each day, Louis Latour Agencies will be serving informal drinks and nibbles so that visitors can unwind or catch up for a chat with the team or their colleagues. The newly released Simonnet-Febvre Cremant de Bourgogne P100 Blanc de Noir and locally brewed craft beers form Hackney's London Field brewery will be served.

On the Concha y Toro stand Q20, Casillero del Diablo will launch Devil's Red and Devil's White blends, as well as new packaging for the premium Reserva Privada range. And Frontera will launch a new range of wines including a Moscato and a Carmenere/Cabernet Sauvignon. Cono Sur’s chief winemaker and general manager, Adolfo Hurtado, will be attending the fair andwill introduce an eight strong range of Single Vineyard wines, entirely new to the UK and exclusive to the on trade and independent merchants (RRP £9.99 - £11.99). These are unique wines of exceptional quality, he says, each variety comes from a specific block of grape vines with singular characteristics. Also new at Excel will be the eighth Pinot Noir in Cono Sur's range – this time a Pinot Noir Rosé within the Bicicleta range  (RRP £7.49).

On stand N20, Bancroft Wines has a new addition to its portfolio – the Edulis wines, which represent great value for money. Named after the Boletus Edulis (edible mushroom), the Edulis wines are fresh and fruit-driven with great character. The Blanco is made from 100% Sauvignon Blanc with nuances of tropical fruit and citrus, green apple and a stony minerality. The Rosado and red wines are all made from 100% Tempranillo grapes that are picked from estate vineyards. The Rosado is fresh and fruity with ripe strawberry and tropical aromas. The Joven is youthful and fruity and the Crianza, with 12 months in French and American oak barrels, has spicier, complex aromas with a long finish. All wines have stelvin closures.

On stand E32, German winery, Schmitt Söhne, based in Longuich (Mosel), will launch a new product to complement the existing Fünf range, which includes Fünf Sassy White, Fünf Sweet Red, Fünf Moscato and Fünf Red Sangria. The new Fünf White Sangria is a refreshing twist on traditional Sangrias. Additionally, the existing Fünf products are now available in 187ml PET bottles either individually or as a handy cluster 4-pack. Stand E32.

Caliterra, on the Hatch Mansfield stand N40, will unveil new packaging across its core wine ranges to reflect the pioneering sustainability work they do. Key to this approach is the crafting of premium quality wines with the utmost respect and care for the physical and social environment in the Colchagua Valley. Esk Valley will be showing off its smart new labels, which have been given a subtle facelift in order to project a more premium image to the range. Errazuriz will be showing two brand new wines –Aconcagua Costa Pinot Noir 2011 (RRP £24) and The Blend Collection White 2011 (RRP £22). The winery will also be showing-off the new packaging for the Max Reserva range and displaying the winning Errazuriz Wine Photographer of the Year entry. Taittinger will be showcasing two new vintages and showcasing the striking new ‘Mosaic’ packaging for Taittinger Nocturne and presenting its award-winning ‘bubble-box’ 2013 gift packaging for the entire range.

On stand F34, DFJ Vinhos winemaker, José Neiva, will be showing a range of over 30 wines from several regions of Portugal, including new SKUs and labels. Wines are available to both the on trade and off trade, and include the Two Ravens range of red, white and rose blends of Portuguese and International varieties: Storks Landing, a Pinot Noir and Shiraz blend; the new Escada red from the Douro region; and the new vintage of the famous Pink Elephant Rose. Also available to taste will be 12 single varietal wines including Touriga Nacional, Trincadeira, Alfrocheiro, Alicante Bouschet, Alvarinho and Arinto.

New ranges being launched on the Copestick Murray stand (N28) include Andolini sparkling wines and Aqua i Pinot Grigio, a 5.5%abv spritzer. The i heart brand has new varietals being added to the range as well as new limited editions.

Boutique winery Oldenburg Vineyards will be releasing to the UK trade a new super-premium Merlot blend called Rhodium (RRP £45) on the Connoisseur Estates stand J1. Oldenburg was founded in 2003 in Banghoek Valley between the Jonkershoek and Franschhoek mountain ranges in Stellenbosch.

Premium Spirits Brands will be showing its Ukrainian premium Staritsky & Levitsky Reserve Vodka at Distil on stand R12. Staritsky&Levitsky Reserve Vodka is produced in the Precarpathia region of Ukraine where the spring water is enriched by quartz, which, it is claimed, adds to the smoothness of the vodka.

Finally, if you are looking for packaging ideas, BoxMart, the luxury, gift-box company, situated on stand N62, will show it newly launched BritBox, a luxury rigid box but with the convenience of flat pack.

There are also a number of seminars and discussions on design and packaging issues not to be missed:

  • Justin Knock, Master of Wine and official winemaking consultant at specialist bottler Cobevco, will explain the quality, environmental and financial benefits of shipping in bulk and in-market packaging. He will also discuss the opportunities this presents with regards to improving product consistency and supply chain flexibility, accessing new markets across Europe, reducing energy and resource consumption, meeting customer requirements for sustainability, and building value into businesses. Accessing new markets – an insight into the benefits of bulk shipping and in-market packaging between 1:00 –2:00 on, Monday 20 May in the Industry Briefing Theatre.
  • Trends in sustainable packaging is a panel discussion sponsored by Nomacorc’s Select Series, and moderated by Dr Jamie Goode. The panellists, from retail, wine brands, package design and supplier arenas, will explore how sustainable packaging can be used as a competitive advantage. 4:00 - 5:30, Monday 20 May in the  Industry Briefing Theatre.
  • Abigail Barlow of wine specialist design agency Barlow Doherty will explain the latest innovations in print and media that could revolutionise drinks packaging. Making your wine labels work harder! 9:30 - 10:00, Tuesday 21 at the  Speaker's Corner - L45.
  • Counterfeit; prevention, solution and marketing will be presented by Geert de Vries – KPMG Counterfeit Risk Services. The trading of alcoholic beverages is familiar with various forms of counterfeit – think of “real fake” to the re-use of packaging, third shift production, tampering and look-alikes. Furthermore, numerous cases of parallel and illicit trade are known; all immediate threats to the brand value and unwanted arguments for authorities to require action from brand owners. Discover what the individual brand owner can do against counterfeiting, and how the combination with marketing will turn threats into advantages and costs into profit. No stories on how it could be, but hard facts from the real world. Listen to the experiences of a global distillery that beat counterfeiting and raised sales over 26% by implementing a new counterfeit/marketing communication concept. A concept based on risk and cost analyses, a communication strategy and (limited) technology, completed with a Disaster Recovery Plan and Implementation Plan, tested in a very small pilot project. Learn from this experience, take away some ‘do’s and don’ts’ and be sure you consider only proven concepts and avoid unnecessary costs. 1:30 - 2:30, Tuesday 21 in the Industry Briefing Theatre. KPMG will share knowledge and experience from the pharmaceutical, automotive, luxury and food/beverages Industry. Gain a lead of one year in a workshop of one hour! 1:30 - 2:30, Tuesday 21 in the Industry Briefing Theatre
  • How oxygen can be used as a winemaking tool. Nomacorc: will take wines that were bottled from the same bottle, on the same day, under controlled circumstances. The only difference: the amount of oxygen via the wine closure. The result: different wines. See if you can taste the difference and which wine you prefer! 9:30 - 10:30, Wednesday 22 May at the Speaker's Corner - L45
  • Decoding brands through packaging. Lulie Halstead, CEO, Wine Intelligence explains what a product tell you about itself just from its packaging. Using the chocolate industry as a case study, participants will hone their abilities to decode, understand and evaluate different brand approaches. 2:00 - 3:00, Wednesday 22 May in the Industry Briefing Theatre

 

29 April 2013 - Felicity Murray